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KUMAK'S RIVER by Michael  Bania


A Tall Tale from the Far North

by Michael Bania, illustrated by Michael Bania

Age Range: 5 - 7

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-88240-886-6
Publisher: Alaska Northwest Books

Iñupiat villagers cope with a flood in a cheery tale that’s not so much “Tall” as it is Wet.

Watching the river ice break up after eight frozen months, papa Kumak comments to his family, “As sure as seagulls return in spring, that river will come to visit us today.” Indeed it does—as Kumak and his neighbors watch from the roofs of their stilt-based homes, the water rises behind a temporary jam to carry away the village’s oil drums, fish tubs, net floats and toys, as well as the boat into which Kumak has herded his motley pack of dogs. The river doesn’t “visit” long, though, and once the dam breaks up, everyone climbs down to help one another successfully recover their strayed goods and animals. The Alaskan author draws from her own experiences to tell the lightly patterned tale, and she illustrates it with bright watercolor scenes replete with frisky dogs and smiling people (the latter in modern dress). There is some brief drama, but it's less a tale of hardship or survival than a celebration of the season’s turn and an authentic glimpse of life in northwestern Alaska.

A valuable, loving look at an often-overlooked culture. (afterword) (Picture book. 5-7)